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Who’s who of committee members

Marilyn Baker

Marilyn Baker

Singer/songwriter Marilyn Baker has recently become an associate member of the committee. She was born prematurely and became blind soon after birth. At the age of fifteen she became a Christian and after graduating from the Royal College of Music taught music in different schools. Later, she gave this up in order to fulfil the calling that was on her heart, to spread God’s message of love and forgiveness through song. She has produced many CDs and works closely with her friend and colleague Tracy Williamson. They direct a charity together, which supports their work of doing concerts, leading church events and running rest and renewal breaks around the UK. Marilyn is looking forward to developing closer links with Open Ears.

Mary Bucknall

Mary Bucknall

Mary Bucknall is currently the Vice-Chair of Open Ears. She is profoundly deaf herself and relies totally on lip-reading with the help of a powerful digital hearing aid. She has recently moved to Dorset to be nearer her family. She spent some years living and working in Kent teaching Deaf Awareness to clergy and churchwardens, and social services staff. She has also taught BSL Taster courses to beginners. Her interests are reading, writing, local history and travel. As well as Open Ears, she is a member of Deaf Anglicans Together (DAT) and is currently one of their reps on the General Synod of the Church of England.

Julia Chapman

Julia Chapman

Julia has been a Trustee and Treasurer of Open Ears since April 2017 and is the newest member of the committee.  She has enjoyed finding out about the work the committee does and the impact this has on its members.  Although Julia does not have a hearing impairment, she does know what it is like to come to terms with, and to adjust to, a disability.  Seven years ago, Julia was diagnosed with a genetic eye condition and two years ago was registered as partially sighted.  This experience gave rise to her interest in Open Ears.  Julia is a qualified accountant and, prior to having to stop work due to her disability, worked in finance for twenty years, most recently within a leading software company.  Although Julia already knows some of us, she is looking forward to meeting many more members of Open Ears at future events.

Marylin Kilsby

Marylin Kilsby

Marylin has been a member of Open Ears since 2008.  She joined the committee in 2010 and became Chair in 2015. Marylin was born hard of hearing but over the years has become severely to profoundly deaf.  She is a qualified teacher of deaf children but spent sixteen year of her working life as a social worker with deaf people. For the last eighteen years until she retired in October 2010, Marylin worked in a voluntary organisation, specifically with deaf people who are acquiring a sight loss.  Despite her significant deafness, Marylin enjoys playing the clarinet and several sizes of recorder.

Christine Pitts

Christine Pitts

Administrator

Open Ears Administrator; became a member of HHCF (Hard of Hearing Christian Fellowship as it was then called) in 1994 and joined the committee the same year. Started going deaf with otosclerosis in her late 20’s, now profoundly deaf with tinnitus and due to have a cochlea implant in June 2018. Originally worked as a secretary to the Personnel Director of a large Departmental Store and then in the aircraft industry. After marrying in 1966 became a secretary at the Bournemouth and Poole College of Art until starting a family in 1970. When the children were old enough to go to school she worked with adults with learning difficulties and then for 20 years with special needs children aged from birth to 4 years. Since retiring in 2005 she has become a Lay Preacher in the United Reformed Church and has been kept busy looking after grandchildren.

Roy Spiller

Roy Spiller

Roy first got involved in Open Ears when helping out with technical aspects at a conference in Green Pastures in October 2017. Since then Roy has been involved in various aspects including helping transfer Speech to Text recordings into documents at Conferences and Committee meetings. Just recently he has been voted on as an Associate Member of the Committee.

Roy was educated to HNC in Applied Physics and all his working life has been involved in engineering.  At the age of 55, his hearing deteriorated in one ear until eventually he was prescribed a hearing aid. Some years later his hearing in the other ear deteriorated such that he now has 2 hearing aids.

Roy became a Christian in his 20’s and almost immediately got involved with children’s and young people’s work, which 50 years later he is still doing

Susanne Willdig

Susanne Willdig

Susanne is a busy mum of two young children now, but used to work for Prospects for People with Learning Disabilities as marketing manager. When Prospects, together with other Christian disability charities, put on a conference about the theology of disability in London, she noticed a lady typing live subtitles at all the talks – all day long. By mid-afternoon Susanne could see the lady was exhausted and offered to help, and when Don Mason, then Chairman of Open Ears, saw her doing this he cornered her immediately afterwards to ask her to help at Open Ears; and the rest, so to speak, is history.

Victor Willdig

Victor Willdig

Victor is a busy father of two young children and husband to Susanne. The kids keep him busy during their waking hours when he is home from work and when they’re not he’s busy doing the long list of jobs Susanne has prepared for him to be done on the house! Victor is a designer for Airbus in Filton and met Susanne on holiday in 2011. Victor comes as a package with Susanne in helping with everything to do with logistics and technology.

Tracy Williamson

Tracy Williamson

Tracy is severely deaf and partially sighted due to contracting Encephalitis at 3 years old.  She has been part of the Open Ears Committee since 2004 and recently became Hearing Eye Editor.  She shares a home in Tonbridge, Kent with Marilyn Baker and their two assistance dogs.  Tracy works for MBM Trust, an itinerant Christian ministry and loves seeing God change lives. When time permits she loves reading, dog walking and being with friends. Tracy is also a writer and has authored several books.